Metro

Former Wayland school official allegedly kept laptop computer

The former athletic director of Wayland High School was arrested Monday on accusations he kept a school-owned computer after he was ousted from his job earlier this year.

Stephen Cass, 49, of Wayland was charged with larceny over $250 and receiving stolen property over $250, police said in a statement. He pleaded not guilty and the case was continued to Dec. 18, according to the Framingham District Court clerk’s office.

Wayland police said they conducted their investigation and obtained a search warrant after receiving a complaint from the school department about the missing computer.

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However, Cass said that a school employee had given him permission to keep the laptop, which he described as an “old beat-up clunker of a computer.”

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“They had told me I could have it,” he said in an interview.

Cass, whose contract was not renewed for this fall, contends he is being targeted because of allegations he made about fiscal mismanagement and other problems within the athletic department.

Paul Stein, Wayland’s superintendent of schools, said the district’s instructional technology department “keeps close track” of school-owned computers and equipment.

“The former athletic director reported that he had returned his school department-issued computer, an assertion which we took at his word,” Stein said in an e-mail to the Globe. “In conducting a routine inventory of the district’s laptops, the IT Department concluded that this computer was in fact missing.”

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Cass, who was hired in 2013, said that at one time he had two school-issued computers. One was an expensive new Mac, which he returned after he lost his job. Cass said the laptop police confiscated was about 7 to 8 years old.

“If they had asked for it back, I would have given it back,” said Cass. “I would have paid for it.”

Cass said he was surprised when police showed up at his door Monday morning with a search warrant.

“I gave them the computer. Not a big deal. And then they arrested me,” he said.

Cass made headlines this past spring when he contended he was being removed from his job in retaliation for trying to improve practices within the athletic department and complaining to the superintendent.

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In a May 19 letter to the School Committee, Cass said the sports department was rife with problems, including misused funds, inadequate background checks for coaches, and lopsided funding favoring boys’ teams in violation of Title IX, a federal law prohibiting gender discrimination in schools.

Those claims prompted the School Committee to investigate and seek the help of state and federal agencies such as the state Office of the Inspector General, the State Ethics Commission, and the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.